Angela Merkel has hit back at Theresa May over her plans for maintaining access to the Single Market once the UK leaves the EU.
The German chancellor told a business audience in Berlin she would not countenance giving the UK preferential access while allowing it to restrict the free movement of people.
Theresa May told the Conservative Party Conference yesterday she wanted to maintain the best possible trading ties with Europe in terms of goods and services, but would not cede the UK’s ability to control immigration.
Merkel told business leaders this morning: “If we don't say that full access to the internal market is linked to full acceptance of the four fundamental freedoms, a process will spread in Europe in which everyone does what they want”.
The “four fundamental freedoms” govern the supposedly free flow of capital, goods, services and people across the 28 members of the EU.
As talk of a so-called “hard Brexit” gathers momentum in the aftermath of the Conservative conference, Merkel added: “They won’t be easy negotiations”. She also maintained the EU’s stance that it will not begin talking to the UK over the terms of its exit deal before Theresa May triggers Article 50.